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Tea With Miss Katherine :: Miss Swish

Miss Katherine welcomes Perth’s own homecoming queen and now one of Melbourne’s leading Drag Queens, Miss Swish, into her front parlour to discuss Couture, Casinos and Cookingover a hot cup of Darjeeling.

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Miss Katherine: Hello Miss Swish! Welcome home! (gush)

Swish: Thank you Miss Katherine, it is good to be home. It is always good to come home and see familiar faces and some new ones.

Katherine: You looked amazing during Fairday – what was it like for you?

Swish: Thank you! It was great! Gorgeous weather! I have not been to Fair Day for four years, and it was all very ‘family’. It was really, really nice to see everyone mingling and having a day out.

Katherine: Your dresses were beautiful, who makes them?

Swish: I have a few girls in Melbourne who make a lot of my stuff. The full burgundygown I wore earlier in the day was made by Rhonda Birchmore’s designer Adrian Weiss for an awards night a couple of years back.

Katherine: Your shows at Connections later that night were fabulous! Were you exhausted from rehearsing ‘And I am Telling You’ because it is such a breathy sort of a song?

Swish: Yeess! That number is very, very breathy. Though I did not move very much, I was in a really tight corsetand even to mime to make the song look as gutsy as Jennifer Hudson really knocks the breath out of ya!

Katherine: How long have you been doing shows?

Swish: I started when I was 17. So, 14 years now.

Katherine: How long were you performing in Perth before you went to Melbourne?

Swish: Nearly ten years, and I have been in Melbourne for four years.

Katherine: Do you love Melbourne?

Swish: I love it. There a lot more doors that can be opened, especially in the art scene with the different cultures and things. There are so many avenues with agencies for television and movies as extras, and there are a lot more clubs, so if one club does not have a show for a while, there are a lot of other clubs that will. You can stick your finger in another pie so to speak.

Katherine: Did you miss Perth when you left?

Swish: I constantly miss Perth. I miss the people. I come back as often as I can, but whenever I go back to Melbourne I am always quite homesick for a little while. I have built a fairly big life over there now, but Perth will always be home. This is my family. This is the place that gave me my confidence and pushed me to do a bit more and I am glad they did. For me Perth will always be home.

Katherine: Where did you grow up?

Swish: I grew up on the wheat belt on a farm.

Katherine: Do you suffer hay fever?

Swish: I suffer from hay fever very badly, which doesn’t help when you are a kid [laughs], but I don’t suffer from it as badly as I did!

Katherine: Who taught you to dance?

Swish: It was a real collaboration of people, including Ben Duncan, Jemmina and the girls I was dancing with at Connections after Fairday. There was a whole group of us who used to get around. The shows were very high energy and quite big years ago and if you couldn’t dance, then you couldn’t do the shows. Just by going into rehearsals you learn and pick up things. I played the drums since I was ten so I alreadyhad rhythm which helped, but I learned a lot from Chlamydia and especially Jemmina.

Katherine: What is it like to be one of the leading Drag Queens in Melbourne?

Swish: It is still very overwhelming, coming from a smaller community like Perth and not knowing anyone and not knowing who I was and going over there and cracking into the Melbourne scene so quickly was very overwhelming… still is.

Katherine: Can you feel Perth’s Pride for you?

Swish: Definitely! Just to come back and to see the smiles is payment enough. The ‘welcomes’ and the ‘thank yous’ and the ‘when are you coming back agains’ makes me sit back and say to myself, ‘wow, I am very lucky!’

Katherine: What is the most amazing show you have ever done in your life?

Swish: Chlamydia, Dita and I did shows in Kuching in Asia – Dita mentioned it in your column a few months back – it really was amazing. Since then there has been so many, but that stands out as my favourite.

Katherine: Who had the greatest influence on your drag in the early years?

Swish: Cindy Pastel, Stryker Myer, Jemmina and Chlamydia taught me so much and are still good friends of mine.

Katherine: Will you be coming back to Perth any time soon?

Swish: Top Shelf Agency has just signed myself and five other Queens to do a Diva Impersonation Showat every major Casino across Australia kicking off with Burswood in February 2008.

Katherine: What would you like to do when you retire from drag?

Swish: I am a chef by trade. That has always been there for me. I have a passion forcooking, but not cookingin restaurants. I find with my life at the moment I am learning new things all of the time. At the moment I am living for the moment and am doing what I love.

Katherine: Favourite Colour?

Swish: Puce.

Katherine: And for those who don’t know what puce is?

Swish: [giggles] A grey lavenderish soft purple.

Katherine: To wear in drag?

Swish: I love really vibrantreds, but I am a Gemini so I like to change my look and colours (and wigs)often. I am constantly going through different phases and stages. Right now I really love long blonde wigs and reds.

Katherine: Favourite flower?

Swish: I love sunflowers because they are so bright and colorful.

Katherine: Favourite books?

Swish: At the moment I am reading Claudia, Daughter of Rome by Antoinette May. I am up to chapter five and I am getting right into it. My favourite books have to be Moby Dick, the Harry Potter books and the Vampire Chronicles.

Katherine: Favourite Joke?

Swish: Ok, it is very dry though, ‘A guy walked intoa bar one day and said oww!’

Katherine: What?

Swish: …because he walked intothe bar.

Katherine: Oh I get it!

Swish: I have to explain it every single time!

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